MPs’ pay rise proposal: a peculiar priority

There are rich countries in the world that have rushed to top-prudence spending strategies because they are cautious about the progress of their economies. They are planning to spend discreetly the money that they have so that they shouldn’t be caught napping should things get out of hand.

And there is a poor African country that was once placed minutely below oil-rich Qatar in terms of the rate at which its economy was growing. But this country is now in dire straits because of self-centred economic policies which were framed on improbable assumptions.

Yet those in leadership positions seem to carelessly undermine the welfare of those that are not involved in direct decision-making policies, and they are willing to spend the money that we don’t have.

Malawi Parliament

Malawi is fighting inequities from numerous fronts. There is the president who has plunged the country in seriously unimpressive bilateral relations with both our neighbours and our donors. There are those learned men and women at the Central Bank and the Malawi Revenue Authority who have found a way of piercing us where it pains most by setting aside millions of our scarce currency to construct swimming pools for themselves.

That is not all; wait, there is more: Members of Parliament seem to have a perfect way of mocking Malawi. For passing numerous ‘erroneous’ bills, these people want to be blessed with a salary hike – a complete mockery to those they ‘misrepresent’.

Civil servants can only be given a salary increment of seven percent because government does not have money to carter for anything more – at least, this is what we are compelled to believe. Yet, while other countries are critically regulating spending for the sake of their economies, our legislators are eager to tell government to spend the money that is not there.

That is pretty ironic. Parliament ceased to make sense many years ago because its occupants seldom tackle matters of public and common interest; and for a job half done in realigning the progress of our country, someone somewhere still believes he deserves a salary increment.

Man’s wisdom sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. It is only a few bills that are passed in Parliament without some resistance from the opposition side, but the salary increment proposal was adopted by most, if not all members present. Such self-centredness perhaps can be condoned by a breed of people who do not care about their purpose in this rational generation.

There are no drugs in hospitals; erratic water and electricity supply is having numerous repercussions on both our lives and our economy. Then there is the rationing of civil servants’ salaries without considering their respective responsibilities; talk of the increase in fuel prices, the scarcity of forex and even fuel itself; the rampant rise of commodity prices and many more. It is shock after shock until we cease to talk.

Amidst these troubles, our MPs have chosen to draw our attention to their fold because nothing else matters in Malawi more than their welfare does. To them, it would be better to have people dying in hospitals because of lack of drugs than to have three hundred thousand kwacha as their salary.

Their consciences are telling them that it would matter less to have civil servants’ salaries rationed, or commodity prices increased without civil servants’ salaries considerably increased at the same rate and pace, or to have no water or electricity for a good week. What matters to them is to cart home fat purses – a peculiar reward for doing nothing.

Well, whatever our MPs are attempting to achieve is perfectly set to test Bingu’s rationality. Here is a whole load of those that are entrusted with the responsibility of making and passing bad laws testing if the president really values the masses.

It is in matters like this where one needs to employ the utmost level of rationality. Bingu has his ‘Yes Sir’ children who pleased him by passing many controversial bills which obviously he had influenced their framework demanding a ridiculous salary increment. And these DPP MPs are standing on the same ground with their opposition counterparts – a rare occurrence in our Parliament, which mostly comes about when outlandish proposals like this are being made.

It may just be a matter of the cost-benefit option. The president will have to consider many factors regarding the scary salary increment proposal by the MPs. Of course, there is this chance to win back a good fraction of the public’s trust by rejecting the increment; not just part of it.

These are trying times as far as our economy is concerned, and after numerous economic gaffes, one needs to be careful of the last straw.

*The author is  a final year student at Chancellor College majoring in Literature in English 

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